Sometimes having the wrong health insurance is even worse than being uninsured. An recent article in Chester County’s Daily Local News made that clear. After becoming unemployed, many people are left in dire straits once their employer’s COBRA coverage expires. With little money, most are only able to buy inferior health insurance plans. At that point, millions of individuals and families become underinsured. Imagine if your insurer refused to cover even one emergency room visit! No wonder some people decide to go uninsured instead; they’d still have to pay for their medical care, but at least wouldn’t still be paying premiums.
Unfortunately, some people doesn’t find out what their health insurance plan does and doesn’t cover until it’s too late. Avoid the underinsurance trap by reviewing your plan and talking with an insurance agent. The best solution is to find a plan that suits your needs and provides the most value. It’s important to save money on insurance, but don’t forget your health. If you are currently underinsured, you can get an affordable health insurance quote for a better plan.
(Image: Commonwealth Fund)
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has joined the strong push for a public option in Congress’ healthcare reform bill, but its inclusion is not guaranteed. The provision’s fate is in the hands of moderate Democrats. Despite the ability for individual states to opt out of the government-run health insurance plan, centrist Democrats like Senators Ben Nelson and Max Baucus are still leery of voting for it. You should get a health insurance quote while you wait for the endless wrangling of votes to finish, since garnering 60 Senate votes to pass this bill will no doubt take awhile. The fact that several politicians in the party have received large campaign contributions from the health insurance industry doesn’t help.
Why the delay? The Senate and the House of Representatives have to debate exactly what form the public option will take, and moderates hold its fate in their hands. They need to compromise between comprehensive health coverage and cost. Gaining Republican votes is a lost cause at this point, so party leaders will be forced to exert their power. For example, Reid may try to convince a swing vote with a seat on a prestigious Senate committee–that a Senator will only get if he or she votes with him on healthcare reform. The more liberal House has a more comprehensive public option proposal included in its bill, and it must be combined with the bill in the generally more conservative Senate prior. Afterward, it’ll see even further amendments by the rest of Congress before a final vote. There is also the possibility, albeit less likely, that some liberal politicians will vote against the bill because it doesn’t do enough to reform our health insurance system. However, centrist politicians receive more attention from leaders because they are the wild card. Can you wait for Washington to decide, or would you prefer to be safe and get health insurance quotes from multiple insurers now? If, years from now, you like what the public option shaped up to be better than your existing health insurance plan, you’ll be able to switch–but if you’re caught uninsured before then, you’ll wish you hadn’t waited.
A recent story in the Boston Globe, while sad, has given me a deeper appreciation of those health insurance companies that provide mental health coverage. During a therapy session at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Bipolar Clinic, a patient with bipolar disorder stabbed his psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is recovering, thankfully; the patient was soon killed by a security guard after he failed to stop.
Many people forget that psychiatrists are also medical doctors that treat a variety of conditions and put themselves in harm’s way each day. While it appears that this particular patient was too far gone, millions of individuals with mental health disorders have seen significant improvements with the help of psychiatric treatment. People who need treatment are more likely to get it if they have health insurance with mental health coverage. There are insurance plans that cover most or all of the cost of psychiatric and therapy visits, as well as medications.
Please don’t wait to get help until it’s too late. If you or someone you love is struggling with paying for treatment of their mental illness, get a health insurance quote instead of giving up. I wish you the best of luck.
(Image: Pink Sherbet Photography under CC 2.0)
Recent studies have found that women under the age of 55 are more expensive to insure than their male counterparts. Why are their health insurance costs higher? A lot of it seems to come from the unfairness of biology:
- Most women need maternity care at some point in their lives, while men don’t. (Still, women who choose not to have children don’t get discounted health insurance quotes.)
- Although this disparity reverses in old age, cancers that almost exclusively affect women (e.g. breast and ovarian cancer) tend to strike at a younger age than exclusively male diseases like prostate cancer. In addition to the high cost associated with cancer treatment, health insurers must also cover preventative measures, such as Pap smears and mammograms.
- On average, women visit the doctor more regularly and use more prescription medication than men. This is most likely primarily due to a higher tendency for women to be proactive when it comes to their well-being, rather than a case of the female gender being sicker.
All of these factors cause insurance providers to consider women’s health insurance policies higher risk, and they charge more as a result.
Many consider the practice of gender rating discriminatory and counter intuitive, as it penalizes women for using greater quantities of preventative care–even though prevention is a proven way of reducing health care costs by a far larger sum. Health insurance companies are willing to eliminate gender rating in certain instances. The Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare reform bill bans insurers from giving individuals and small groups a different health insurance quote based on their gender, but the definition of a small group is arbitrary. It could be as small as 50 or 100 employees. A firm with just 51 employees and a predominately female workforce could pay up to 20% more than the national average to insure its employees–and employees will have to cover more of that cost themselves.
Democratic Senator Barbara Mikulski is calling for the end of this practice altogether, including in large corporations. While she has been gathering support from other congresspersons in her quest, the health insurance industry’s lobby has been fighting to retain the exception that would allow gender rating to continue in the large group market. Their argument is that some businesses will decide to offer their own insurance (as opposed to buying it in the group market) after seeing their premiums increase. It’ll be extremely interesting to see how this plays out. Will Congress give into the insurers, believing that their support in eliminating gender rating for individual and small business health insurance is more urgent? After all, at least those working for large companies tend to have at least some form of employer-sponsored health insurance plan.
(Image: jfrancis under CC 2.0)